The Proving Grounds Beta


March 9 2020

We’ve been relatively quiet about campaign balance lately, as our big focus on delivering faster end-turn times would undoubtedly have mucked around with any substantial balance changes. Now that’s out of the way, we want to tackle some of the longer-standing balance problems.

However, with the influx of so many new legendary lords, races, units, mechanics and more throughout Warhammer II’s life, it’s become an absolute hell-pit abomination to keep everything balanced with each successive content addition. Changing things marginally with each patch would take a long time to manifest as improvements for you and could easily be undone by the next content release. On the other hand, changing everything at once is waaay too risky for the live game.

So, we’re trialling something new. We’ve created an experimental beta called the Proving Grounds, where we’ve tinkered with various aspects of balancing across all the races, safely away from the main game. There’ll be some extreme changes, designed to push the limits of our balance understanding, and maybe we’ll find some that players enjoy enough for us to implement in the main game. This beta will run for a limited time, while it continues to generate useful feedback.

To be crystal clear, we can’t guarantee that ANY of the changes in the Proving Grounds will make it into the main game.

This isn’t like one of our conventional update betas, where everything on the list is ultimately intended to go into the live game. Neither is it a replacement for such update betas – they’re an important part of our update process and will continue to happen before future content additions.

The Proving Grounds is more of a learning tool to help us improve our balancing approach; a testbed for new ideas that doesn’t threaten to upend the live game, and an opportunity for players to experience the game in a new light. We’re specifically trialling a new campaign difficulty setup to provide different pacing options and more clarity. You can find full details in the notes below.

If you want to be part of this process, you can sign into the Proving Grounds beta and download our latest experimental balance-tweaks to your game client. Please do note that it’s going to have some dramatic and probably messy impacts on any campaigns you’re midway through! In fact, we recommend you don’t continue any campaigns you’re currently enjoying, but instead begin a new campaign with your chosen race to experience the changes from the start. You can of course opt-out of the beta at any time, revert to the current version of the game, and pick up where you left off with your previous saves.

We keenly want to hear your feedback. What you like, what you don’t, what’s too extreme, what’s not extreme enough, based on your Proving Grounds gameplay experiences. The more detailed your explanations, the better we can react to them. After gathering enough such feedback we’ll discuss internally how we make best use of the results to make sure that any future changes we implement move the game in the right direction.

How to get the Proving Grounds beta

In order to opt in to the Proving Grounds Beta:

  1. Right-click on Total War: WARHAMMER II in your Steam library
  2. Click Properties and click the Betas tab
  3. In the drop-down menu, select the warhammerii_1.8.4 option
  4. Close the window and your build will automatically update to 1.8.4

How to tell us what you think

Tell us what you think about the Proving Grounds beta over at the official forums here or on Reddit here.

Proving Grounds


  • Experiment with different difficulty settings, including game pace modifications
  • Adjust game pace to align with shorter end-turn times
  • BUT retain a game pace that allows for frequent activity like recruitment, construction or combat every turn
  • Increase impact in recruitment and construction decisions
  • Reduce the economy scaling into the later stages of the game
  • Add meaningful and stronger money sinks
  • Keep campaign AI competitive
  • Create an environment to possibly remove supply lines
  • Reduce the strength of swift expansion
  • Streamline factional differences in economy and more clearly define faction uniqueness
  • Return public order to be generally more meaningful
  • Return growth to be generally more meaningful
  • Push late-game units later into the game naturally for both AI and player
  • Aim for more varied playthroughs and different late-game challenges emerging naturally
  • Avoid hard restrictions

Difficulty restructure changes

  • Experimental difficulty changes affecting not only challenge but also game speed
  • Naming and function change for difficulty levels (please note these are not localised – they will only show up in English game versions)
    • Easy difficulty becomes New to Total War
    • Normal difficulty becomes Fast: A faster-paced Total War with cheaper recruitment and construction
    • Hard difficulty becomes Standard: A slower-paced Total War with more expensive recruitment and construction
    • Very Hard difficulty becomes Veteran: A slower-paced Total War with more expensive recruitment and construction and increased AI buffs
    • Legendary difficulty remains Legendary: A slower-paced Total War with more expensive recruitment and construction, increased AI buffs, no quick save, and battle realism
  • Battle difficulty remains the same (even though the names changed)
  • Reduced public order penalties for player at lower difficulty levels
  • Reduced public order penalties based on ‘hostile’ corruption at lower difficulty levels
  • Adjusted recruitment, construction and other bonuses for AI and player based on difficulty
  • Modified starting treasury on lower difficulties
  • Increased background income for all major factions (including player) on lower difficulties
  • Reduced background income for all minor factions on lower difficulties
  • AI Lords get additional experience based on difficulty

General changes

  • Removed supply lines (additional upkeep for all armies the more armies the player has)
  • Removed building conversion on occupation (automatic conversion of buildings of a different race)
  • Income streamlined and adjusted:
    • Added and adjusted resource buildings for all races to grant money
    • Adjusted direct income from buildings for all races
    • Reduced economy scaling in later stages of the game
  • Growth re-balance:
    • Removed increasing Growth on main settlement chain
    • Reduced and adjusted growth on growth buildings
  • Public Order re-balance:
    • Removed Public Order on main settlement chain
    • Adjusted Public Order on buildings
  • Building cost adjustments:
    • Low Level buildings are cheaper (Green building category)
    • High level buildings and main settlement chains more expensive
    • Exception: Greenskins construction cost reduced
  • Unit recruitment cost doubled
  • Upkeep of Lords and Heroes adjusted to match their strength and their mount option
  • Slave economy re-balance (grows quicker, drops faster):
    • Dark Elves slave capacity on settlements reduced
    • Dark Elves slave Public order penalty reduced
    • Adjusted direct income from slaves
    • Removed most slave percentage modifiers
    • Reduced slave decline reduction effects
  • Chaos and Beastmen unit upkeep reduced
  • Lizardmen Slann building only available in major settlement
  • Post battle loot reduced
  • Sacking income reduced
  • Trade commodity value halved
  • Base Rogue army spawn rate reduced
  • Clan Angrund (Belegar) initial upkeep penalty reduced
  • Nakai start setup adjusted

Campaign AI changes

  • Building adjustments to accommodate the above changes
  • Malus AI will confederate less quickly and stay independent
  • Offer to join war will not happen as often
  • AI doesn’t remember diplomatic events as long as it used to
  • Reduced Greenskins’ over-aggressiveness
  • Vampires now more aggressive
  • General diplomatic hostility towards Greenskins reduced
  • Skaven AI unit recruitment improved
  • AI further-reduced focus on bad climate regions
  • Some AI factions focus more on their home territory (Dwarfs/mountains, Empire/Empire provinces, High Elves/Ulthuan)


  • Autoresolver bonus against non-playable factions increased for Greenskins, Dark Elves, Skaven and Vampires
  • The autoresolver subsystem ensuring unit losses has been disabled (units are now generally less likely to be killed in auto-resolved battles)

Campaign difficulty levels in detail

  • Starter: The entry level Total War
    • Player:
      • Public Order +2
      • Public Order Corruption penalty -50%
      • Upkeep -20%
      • Recruitment cost -40%
      • Construction cost -40%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 30%
    • AI:
      • Growth 0
      • Replenishment 2%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 5%
      • Recruitment cost -20%
      • Construction cost -20%
      • Global Recruitment 2
      • Local Recruitment 2
      • Hero success chance -10%
  • Fast: A faster-paced Total War
    • Player:
      • Public Order Corruption penalty -25%
      • Recruitment cost -25%
      • Construction cost -25%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 20%
    • AI:
      • Growth 20
      • Replenishment 5%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 10%
      • Recruitment cost -50%
      • Construction cost -50%
      • Global Recruitment 3
      • Local Recruitment 3
      • Lord XP gain 25
  • Standard: A slower-paced Total War
    • Player:
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 5%
    • AI:
      • Growth 20
      • Replenishment 5%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 10%
      • Recruitment cost -40%
      • Construction cost -40%
      • Global Recruitment 3
      • Local Recruitment 3
      • Unit XP gain 100
      • Lord XP gain 25
  • Veteran: A slower-paced Total War with more AI buffs
    • Player:
      • Upkeep +10%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 5%
    • AI:
      • Growth 50
      • Replenishment 10%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 20%
      • Recruitment cost -80%
      • Construction cost -80%
      • Global Recruitment 5
      • Local Recruitment 3
      • Unit XP gain 200
      • Lord XP gain 50
  • Legendary: A slower-paced Total War with more AI buffs, save/load restrictions, and battle realism
    • Player:
      • Upkeep +10%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 5%
    • AI:
      • Growth 50
      • Replenishment 10%
      • Additional Lord Replenishment 20%
      • Recruitment cost -80%
      • Construction cost -80%
      • Global Recruitment 5
      • Local Recruitment 3
      • Unit XP gain 400
      • Lord XP gain 50

Caveats and Potential Problems

  • May contain setup errors, general copy-paste errors or missed content
  • Battle difficulty remains unchanged even though campaign difficulty has changed
  • Difficulty naming change not localised and will not affect achievements
  • Scripted Armies and Quest battle balance not updated
  • Low-quality army spam is a potential side-effect
  • Dark Elf slave economy may be too erratic
  • Tomb King performance unknown, as they remained largely untouched